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This Tablet Thing Is Really Catching On

There was a time when some Luddite editor called the iPad an "iPhone on steroids" (and didn't mean that in a nice way) and ridiculed it, wondering aloud in pixels why anybody would want this device and a smartphone and a laptop.

There was a time. That time is no more. No, your editor hasn't bought an iPad. Everybody else has, though. Recently, we found out that Apple is now the world's No. 1 PC vendor and is starting to crush it not only with consumers but also in the enterprise.

Is there anything Apple won't eventually dominate? Should we expect the score of Sunday's Super Bowl to be Patriots 23, Giants 20, Apple 517? (Reverse the Pats and Giants if you'd like. You get the point.) Will Apple now storm to the Stanley Cup, the NBA title, multiple Oscars (actually, that somehow seems possible) and, in November, the presidency? (If corporations are people, your editor would probably rather vote for the "person" that is Apple than anybody else who will be running.)

The fantastic fruit simply sweeps all before it into humble submission. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Microsoft is years behind the rest of the industry in tablets and smartphones, that HP's leaders have recently been less effective than Herman Cain's campaign manager (seriously, those ads were creepy) and that Android seemingly violates every patent ever written and besides that comes in more flavors than ketchup. (Yes, ketchup, or catsup if you prefer. Have you walked down the ketchup aisle lately? The variety on display is practically obscene. It's also a beautiful reminder that, yeah, we can do that in America -- and we will.)

Still, all credit has to go to Apple, which not only created the iPad but actually persuaded people to buy a tablet. The idea of tablet computing has been around for a very long time, and tablets have existed for a while. But they were largely useless or just thoroughly rejected until the late Steve Jobs held one up on stage that just worked. Maybe it was Jobs; maybe it was Apple, coming off the success of the iPhone; or maybe it was just because the device was really cool. Whatever the reason, Apple quickly did what once seemed impossible: It got people not just to buy, but to buy into the idea of tablet computers.

And your editor, who so blithely ridiculed the iPad when it launched, gets it now -- the tablet computing thing, that is. The iPad was a bit out of an 1105 Media editor's price range (hint, hint), but with an Amazon gift certificate and a great deal on a used device, the late, great HP Touchpad was right in the financial comfort zone. And it's awesome. (By the way, I can go ahead and expense this, right?)

No, really! webOS is a gem, and the whole tablet experience is fantastic. It's much better than reading casually on a laptop (almost impossible to do), and it's more comfortable than reading on a smartphone (just a bit too small). Your editor has lifelong problems with books and eye strain, but a tablet doesn't require the wearing of the dreaded reading glasses. Videos and music are fantastic, practically unbelievable. And now there will be a screen too keep your editor's 16-month-old son occupied -- at least for a little while -- on those long flights from Boston to Dallas-Fort Worth and back.

Of course, WebOS has no apps to speak of, so your editor is soon to embark on hacking his device to also run Android. There might be another blog entry about that to come. It's not as easy (for this blogger, anyway) as it seems to be online. The real bottom line of all this rambling is this: The Touchpad is great, really great -- and it's the device nobody bought until it got marked down to $100. It was the failure, and it's brilliant. The iPad 2 must be beyond incredible (and is, from what your editor has seen of it). The iPad 3 might bring about the end of life as we know it. And that's why people are finally buying tablets, no matter how hard some cynics tried to stem the tablet tide.

What's your tablet experience? If you don't have or want one, why not? Send your thoughts to lpender@rcpmag.com or sound off in the comments below.

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Posted by Lee Pender on February 01, 2012 at 11:56 AM


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